If you find yourself struggling with a substance use disorder that has developed into an addiction, you have experienced its many adverse effects. Addiction can negatively impact your career, relationships, family life, and finances, as well as your physical and mental wellbeing.
As the adverse effects of addiction continue to pile up, you become less emotionally and psychologically stable, which could even result in a co-occurring mental health disorder. Continue reading to learn more about how addiction affects your mental health.
The science behind addiction’s impact on mental health
Substance use directly impacts the brain. These substances can cause changes in the brain’s structure and functioning over time. These changes can disrupt things like cognition, memory, impulse control and decision-making, potentially impacting a person’s mental health.
Those, in combination with other negative consequences of addiction, like a job loss, failed relationships, financial hardship, custody battles, or legal problems, could cause someone to feel anxious or depressed.
There is also the possibility that an undiagnosed mental health condition is present, such as depression, which may have been worsened by the substance use disorder. Many substances can aggravate the symptoms of an existing mental health illness.
A common example of this is when pre-existing depression is present and the individual self-medicates with alcohol. Not only will the alcohol consumption enhance the symptoms, but it also increases the risk of the individual developing a co-occurring alcohol use disorder.
What is a dual diagnosis?
When a substance use disorder co-occurs with a mental health disorder — such as bipolar disorder — the condition is referred to as a dual diagnosis. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 17 million Americans experienced a dual diagnosis in 2020. Regardless of whether the substance use disorder surfaced first, having co-occurring disorders intensifies the symptoms of both conditions and can make treatment planning more complex.
Symptoms of a dual diagnosis are as diverse as the possible combinations of disorders. For example, someone with co-occurring anxiety disorder and benzodiazepine use disorder will have different symptoms than someone with major depressive disorder and alcohol use disorder. However, what most dual diagnoses do have in common, is the severity of the symptoms. This happens because each disorder amplifies the effects of the other.
A dual diagnosis is a complex condition that requires careful screening when an individual approaches treatment. A dual diagnosis results from a thorough assessment for both mental health disorders and substance use disorders during the intake interview and evaluation process.
Treatment protocols for co-occurring disorders
If you have co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders, it is essential to find a treatment provider that understands the complexities of dual diagnosis treatment. These are specialty programs that include psychiatric treatment and substance use disorder treatment into your customized recovery plan.
A comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment program should include:
- Withdrawal management
- Individual psychotherapy
- Medication management
- Group therapy
- 12 Step program
- Psychosocial education and life skills
- Holistic treatment
- Relapse prevention planning
- Nutrition and exercise
If you are struggling with a substance use disorder and find your mental health possibly deteriorating as well, you may benefit from enrolling in an evidence-based, holistic dual diagnosis treatment program.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. Our programs are accredited by The Joint Commission, and result in frequent publications of ongoing research into effective treatment methodologies. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.